Groundfishing boats, also called draggers, fishing out of New Bedford are typically 70 to 100 feet long. A typical trip lasts 5 to 10 days. Crew size is usually 4 or 5 men including the Captain, a mate, cook, engineer or mechanic and a deckhand. While each member of the crew has special skills, everyone helps out on deck, in the engine room or in the galley when needed.
New Bedford draggers fish from Maine to North Carolina. Most fish one of three areas: Nantucket shoals (a very shallow and sandy area stretching south and east of Nantucket), Great South Channel (reaching from Provincetown to the south west part of Georges Bank about 70 miles southeast of the island of Nantucket) and Georges Bank proper (a shallow plateau extending approximately 150 miles due east of Cape Cod and Nantucket to Canadian territorial waters)
There are three major areas permanently closed to fishing, Closed Area I just east of the Great South Channel, Closed Area two on eastern Georges Bank and the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area south of Nantucket Island and west of the Great South Channel.
After steaming to the fishing grounds, the net is deployed and the boat continues to travel slowly. When the gear is hauled back, the cod end is emptied on deck, and the net is set out again. The crew sorts the catch, returning juvenile fish to the sea and gutting and cleaning the adult fish. The fish are iced in the fish hold below decks until the boat returns to port.
Groundfish vessels fish for a variety of species including cod, haddock, flounder, monkfish, redfish, hake, Pollock, and halibut.